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Blog - GAMBLING

Shanghai Bobby outfinished He's Had Enough to win the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. (Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire)

By Bob Ehalt

Shanghai Bobby dropped out of one exclusive fraternity last weekend but he joined another one this week.

On Saturday, he fell from the ranks of unbeaten 3-year-olds with a second-place finish in the Holy Bull Stakes (G3).

But, on Wednesday, the reigning juvenile champion and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) winner was pegged as the highweight on the 2012 Experimental Free Handicap, putting him in the same company as champions Affirmed, Seattle Slew, Secretariat and Citation.

Compiled by three of the nation’s leading racing secretaries – the New York Racing Association’s P.J. Campo, Ben Huffman of Churchill Downs and Keeneland Race Course, and Del Mar’s Thomas S. Robbins – the Experimental Free Handicap ranks male and female 2-year-olds as if they were running against each other in a handicap race.

Shanghai Bobby, off an undefeated campaign, topped the list for colts and geldings with a weight assignment of 126 pounds, three pounds more than Juvenile runner-up He’s Had Enough and graded stakes winner Violence.

VIOLENCE WINNING CASHCALL FUTURITY

Violence Hero

Photo courtesy of Benoit & Associates

On the fillies’ side, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Beholder topped the scale with 123 pounds, one more than Executiveprivilege, who finished a length behind her at the Breeders’ Cup.

Taking into account only 2-year-old races, the Experimental Free Handicap historically has painted an accurate picture of 2-year-old form since it was started in 1933 by Walter Vosburgh. Considering how a horse that did not race at two has not won the Kentucky Derby since 1882, the Experimental often has played a key role in highlighting horses to watch in the “Run for the Roses” as well as the other two legs of the Triple Crown.

From 2003 through 2012, the winners of 13 Triple Crown races appeared on the Experimental Free Handicap and only twice in that period (2011 and 2008) has there been a Triple Crown season without at least one Experimental horse winning a part of the series.

I’ll Have Another, who won last year’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness, best illustrates a horse who showed some flashes of potential at two then blossomed three. He was assigned 111 pounds on the Experimental Free Handicap.

I'LL HAVE ANOTHER WINNING DERBY

I'll have Another 980

Last year, Hansen and Union Rags were co-highweights at 126, and while neither one hit the board in the Kentucky Derby, the value of 2-year-old form came to the fore in the Belmont Stakes when Union Rags captured the final leg of the Triple Crown.

In recent years, five of the last eight Kentucky Derby winners were included on the Experimental Free Handicap. Prior to I’ll Have Another, Super Saver was assigned 122 pounds on the 2009 Experimental Free Handicap, four less than the co-highweights Lookin At Lucky and Vale of York. Despite his promise at two, Super Saver wound up paying a generous $18 to win on Kentucky Derby day 2010.

The Experimental Free Handicap listed an even more improbable Derby winner in 2005 when Giacomo, who received a 122-pound impost on the 2004 Experimental, returned $102.60 after his shocking win.

While the last seven horses to be assigned the highweight or co-highweight on the Experimental (from 2007-2011) have not finished better than sixth in the Derby, Shanghai Bobby can draw some inspiration from Street Sense. He won the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, was assigned the Experimental Free Handicap highweight of 127 pounds and won the 2007 Derby.

Maybe, with a tradition as rich as the Experimental Free Handicap, it’s finally time for history to repeat itself.

EXPERIMENTAL FREE HANDICAP FACTS AND FIGURES

(for previous 10 years, Experimental Free Handicaps 2002-2011)

  • The largest difference from high weight to second was in 2007 with War Pass at 127 pounds, seven more than Dixie Chatter, Into Mischief and Pyro at 120.
  • Of the five Kentucky Derby winners assigned a weight on the Experimental Free Handicap in the last 10 years, the average assignment was 119.2 pounds.
  • Of the 15 horses high weighted or co-high weighted, three went on to become classic winners (Union Rags, Lookin At Lucky, Street Sense), three others won graded stakes, and three others were Grade 1-placed. 
  • High weights and horses giving five pounds or less to the high weights for the male division account for 48 horses. That group of 48 has produced seven classic winners — Union Rags, Lookin At Lucky, Super Saver, Street Sense, Afleet Alex, Giacomo, Birdstone — and eight other Grade 1 winners, including 2004 Kentucky Derby runner-up Lion Heart.
  • The aforementioned group of 48 also includes 12 additional graded stakes winners, including classic-placed Creative Cause.
  • Thus, of 48 males high weighted or giving five pounds or less to that year’s high weight, 27 won graded stakes as 3-year-olds. Only 10 of the 48 did not at least place in a graded race at 3.
  • Fourteen horses that went on to win classics the following year were not rated on the Experimental Free Handicap.
  • Two fillies have won classics: Rags to Riches was not rated among females in 2006 and Rachel Alexandra was rated at 116 pounds in 2008. 

2012 EXPERIMENTAL FREE HANDICAP (males)

Horse Weight Color State Bred Breeder Pedigree
Shanghai Bobby 126 dk b/br KY Stonehaven Steadings  by Harlan's Holiday out of Steelin' by Orientate
He's Had Enough 123 gr/ro KY Alexander Groves Matz, LLC  by Tapit out of Amelia by Dixieland Band
Violence 123 dk b/br KY Dell Ridge Farm, LLC  by Medaglia d'Oro out of Violent Beauty by Gone West
George Vancouver 121 b KY Capital Bloodstock  by Henrythenavigator out of Versailles Treaty by Danzig
Power Broker 121 ch KY Jamm, Ltd.  by Pulpit out of Shop Again by Wild Again
Overanalyze 120 b KY Diamond A Racing Corp.  by Dixie Union out of Unacloud by Unaccounted For
Uncaptured 120 dk b/br ON William D. Graham  by Lion Heart out of Captivating by Arch
Capo Bastone 119 ch KY Hargus Sexton, Sandra Sexton, Tom Bozarth & Silver Fern  Farm, LLC by Street Boss out of Fight to Love by Fit to Fight
Noble Tune 119 dk b/br KY Dell Ridge Farm, LLC  by Unbridled's Song out of Serena's Cat by Storm Cat

Click here to see entire list of weights on males, plus past performances of horses included in the Experimental Free Handicap.

2012 EXPERIMENTAL FREE HANDICAP (fillies)

Horse Weight Color State Bred Breeder Pedigree
Beholder 123 b KY Clarkland Farm by Henny Hughes out of Leslie's Lady by Tricky Creek
Executiveprivilege 122 b KY Betz/D.J. Stable/Kidder/J. Betz/Robenalt by First Samurai out of Refugee by Unaccounted For
Flotilla (FR) 120 dk b/br FR Eric Puerari, Oceanic Bloodstock & Ariane Gravereaux by Mizzen Mast out of Louvain (IRE) by Sinndar (IRE)
Kauai Katie 120 b KY Spendthrift Farm LLC by Malibu Moon out of More Than Pretty by More Than Ready
Dreaming of Julia 119 b KY Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings LLC by A.P. Indy out of Dream Rush by Wild Rush
My Happy Face 119 gr/ro KY Spendthrift Farm & Shawhan Place by Tiz Wonderful out of Summer Star by Siberian Summer
Pure Fun 119 ch KY Royal Oak Farm, LLC by Pure Prize out of Chelsea Green by Key to the Mint
So Many Ways 118 b PA John R. Penn & John C. Penn by Sightseeing out of Happy Scene by Dehere
Sign 117 b KY Claiborne Farm & Adele B. Dilschneider by Pulpit out of Cross by Mighty
Spring in the Air 117 b ON WinStar Farm LLC by Spring At Last out of Unbridled Run by Unbridled
Unlimited Budget 117 b FL Ocala Stud by Street Sense out of Unlimited Pleasure by Valid Appeal
Watsdachances (IRE) 117 b IRE P. G. Lyons by Diamond Green (FR) out of High Finance (IRE) by Entrepreneur (GB)

Click here to see entire list of weights for fillies, plus past performances of horses included in the Experimental Free Handicap.

Image Description

Bob Ehalt

Bob Ehalt has been an avid fan of Thoroughbred racing since that day in June of 1971 when he and his father walked from their Queens Village, N.Y., home to Belmont Park to see Canonero II fall short in his bid for the Triple Crown. A veteran sports writer and correspondent for Thoroughbred Times magazine, Bob has covered horse racing for more than 20 years and has won three awards in the Associated Press Sports Editors national writing contest for his coverage of the sport.

Now working at the New Haven Register in Connecticut, Bob has also owned Thoroughbreds since 1995 and was a member of the syndicate that raced Tale of the Cat. He also writes a racing blog for ESPNNewYork.com and is the co-founder of the New York Hot List handicapping service, which is offered at InterBets.com.

His NTRA.com blog received first-place honors in the 2008-09 Breeders' Cup Media Awards, winning in the initial year of competition in the Social Media category.  You can follow him on Twitter at @BobEhalt

 

Image Description

Bob Ehalt

Bob Ehalt has been an avid fan of Thoroughbred racing since that day in June of 1971 when he and his father walked from their Queens Village, N.Y., home to Belmont Park to see Canonero II fall short in his bid for the Triple Crown. A veteran sports writer and correspondent for Thoroughbred Times magazine, Bob has covered horse racing for more than 20 years and has won three awards in the Associated Press Sports Editors national writing contest for his coverage of the sport.

Now working at the New Haven Register in Connecticut, Bob has also owned Thoroughbreds since 1995 and was a member of the syndicate that raced Tale of the Cat. He also writes a racing blog for ESPNNewYork.com and is the co-founder of the New York Hot List handicapping service, which is offered at InterBets.com.

His NTRA.com blog received first-place honors in the 2008-09 Breeders' Cup Media Awards, winning in the initial year of competition in the Social Media category.  You can follow him on Twitter at @BobEhalt

 

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